Local politicians and citizens gathered at the Edmonds Senior Center Monday night to show their support for current Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, calling her a champion for middle-class families who is willing to fight against “special interests” intent on bringing unwanted development to downtown.
The original featured speaker for Fraley-Monillas’ campaign fundraiser, Congressman Jim McDermott, was unable to attend after he was called back to Washington, D.C. to debate another Congressional challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Instead, 32nd District Rep. Ruth Kagi read a statement on behalf of McDermott, who apologized for not being there but added he was confident that Fraley-Monillas would ensure “that working class families are represented.”
“I know that she is the best representative for this beautiful city of Edmonds because she shares your values and your struggles,” McDermott said in his statement.
Others in attendance at Monday night’s event: 32nd District State Representative Cindy Ryu, County Councilmembers Dave Gossett and Brian Sullivan, former Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper, and Edmonds City Councilmembers Joan Bloom and Kristiana Johnson. Serving as Master of Ceremonies was Snohomish County Executive John Lovick, a Fraley-Monillas supporter who was recently appointed to fill the position vacated by Aaron Reardon’s resignation.
“This lady has been such a wonderful councilmember here in Edmonds and we’re glad to have her run again,” Lovick said of Fraley-Monillas, who will face former Councilmember Ron Wambolt in November. A retired adult training program supervisor from Fircrest School, Fraley-Monillas defeated Wambolt in the August 2009 primary and went on to beat Lora Petso in the November 2009 general election. (Petso was appointed the following year to fill the Position 7 seat left vacant with the resignation of Councilmember Dave Orvis.)
A surprise guest at the campaign event was former Edmonds City Councilmember Michael Plunkett, now living in Seattle, who said that Edmonds needs “the kind of leadership that Adrienne has provided.”
When Fraley-Monillas was first elected to the city council four years ago, “my work got a whole lot easier then because I would vote any way she wanted me to,”Plunkett said. “I didn’t have to worry about it anymore because I actually trusted her instincts.”
Plunkett said that one of things that most impressed him about Fraley-Monillas was her willingness to talk about all sides of an issue and not become attached to the outcome. “You could have a strong debate with Adrienne, she would talk with you about how she felt, you would talk with her and you would walk away friends,” he said. “That’s not easy to do.”
“She helped bring that to our city council, I know she continues to, and that’s why I’m here,” Plunkett added.
During her speech, Fraley-Monillas noted that she is a long-time resident of Edmonds’ Lake Ballinger neighborhood and also volunteers for worthy causes, including Edmonds schools, the Special Olympics and the Edmonds Senior Center. “I come from a family that believes in volunteerism and caring for others as part of the fabric of our community,” she said.
She emphasized her theme of addressing the needs of all Edmonds neighborhoods, not just the downtown. “The charm of downtown Edmonds is a destination for our tourism and should not be a focus for our city,” she said. “Our communities are Perrinville, Ballinger, Five Corners, Westgate and Highway 99.”
She pointed to “special interests” who believe that economic development is building high-rise condominiums. She called instead for a focus on “transit-oriented housing with community development around them…not one-bedroom, $400,000 condos next to the waterfront.”
“Don’t get me wrong, these are nice if you can afford them,” Fraley-Monillas added. “But the average income for a family of four in the state of Washington is $58,000 per year,” and working families and young people rely on transit to move around, she added.
She called for a focus on developing the Edmonds stretch of Highway 99, noting that she has spent the last few months meeting with property owners, businesses and other parties interested in the idea. Economic development for Highway 99 may also address the area’s criminal element, she said, noting that residents living near Highway 99 for years “have had to endure increased crime in the form of drug houses, prostitution, burglary and shootings.”
“The police have done all they can, but if this sort of crime was on 5th and Main you would ask why,” she said.
Closing the evening for the Fraley-Monillas campaign was former Edmonds Mayor Cooper, who warned those attending that “the people who want high-rise developments in downtown Edmonds are going to spend whatever it takes to get a majority on the Edmonds City Council.” Instead, Fraley-Monillas will provide “a common-sense voice of smart growth,” Cooper said.